Hawaii-Grown Oolong

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
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190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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22 Tasting Notes View all

  • “First off, it is easy to tell that this is related to my much-loved Hawaiian-Grown Black/Makai Black. The flavor profiles are pretty similar, but the flavors seem softer, slightly muted in this...” Read full tasting note
  • “After this cup – I am out of this lovely gem…bummer… This tastes incredibly smooth today. YUM. There is a slight juiciness to it and even slighter pine type taste. What a terrific cuppa! Better...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is another fabulous Takgoti tea. I wanted to wait until I had a decent chunk of time on my hands to really give this tea the tasting note it deserves. This is a special tea! Not many teas...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is a really REALLY good Oolong. The flavor is truly unique. I can indeed taste the tropical notes here. It is sweet and fruity (but not overly fruity), with a nice buttery smoothness to it....” Read full tasting note

From Samovar

Origin: Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA

Flavor Profile: Because it was grown and processed in Hawaii, this oolong’s flavor profile is a singular experience. The leaves are young, artfully consistent and vibrantly colored with slightly oxidized edges. They brew into a sophisticated, delicate, pale yellow-green infusion.

The flavor of the brew is elusive and complex. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a Baochong oolong, but less fruity. It has some of the grassiness of a sencha, but it’s not brothy. It’s flinty, crisp, smooth and cooling, with mild, tropical notes of green papaya. Fleeting hints of pine, evergreen, Kahili ginger flowers (which are locally abundant) and honey add to the complexity of this enticing brew.

Tea Story: Samovar is the first tea company in the world to retail Hawaii-Grown Oolong outside of Hawaii.

Hawaii-Grown Oolong Tea is grown at 3,600 feet above sea level near the active Kilauea Volcano’s summit at the Volcano Tea Garden. Locally, this oolong is called “Mauka Oolong.” Mauka means “toward the mountain;” it is a Hawaiian adaptation of the Chinese name “high mountain tea.”

As a high-elevation tea and as a Hawaii-grown product, the Volcano Tea Garden Hawaii-Grown Oolong has an incredibly pure growing environment and a unique set of weather patterns as the basis for its terroir. The soil is fertile and acidic (precisely what tea plants need) and the water, air and soil are amongst the cleanest on Earth.

Volcano Tea Garden started quite unexpectedly after owner Mike Riley visited his wife, Carol, at the USDA Pacific Basin Agriculture Research Center in Hilo, Hawaii, where she worked. Carol worked under Dr. Francis Zee, who was soon to become a major contributor to tea’s newfound presence in Hawaii agriculture.

Dr. Zee had just discovered that his predecessor at the Hilo research facility had planted a row of tea plants there many years earlier. Mike watched Dr. Zee pluck and process a batch of tea, which they drank at the end of the day. Mike was immediately hooked on the idea of Hawaii-grown tea.

Mike harvests the leaves and processes them by hand. He hand-rolls the leaves in muslin cloth and pan-fires the leaves. He repeats the process of rolling and frying about 25 times to produce a lightly oxidized, semi-balled, light-roast oolong in small batches that are under five pounds dry weight each.

Both Mike and Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii & Company belong to a collective of local tea growers that has joined together to make their teas available to companies like Samovar.

Although they both work in Hawaii’s higher elevations and Mike’s farm is only four miles away as the crow flies, Eva’s plants flush at different times from his, just as he can feel earthquakes about three minutes before she can. Eva said this is all part of the rhythm of nature that goes on in Hawaii.

Eva also processes our Hawaii-Grown Black Tea with leaves from another tea garden. She sees her role as helping growers bring their teas to fruition and customizing teas to suit Samovar’s needs. Eva said, “Jesse had so many
people request teas grown in the U.S., he got tired of saying no,” and that now, “We’re happy to be able to debut our teas with Jesse.”

The amount of tea Samovar orders is limited enough that Hawaii tea growers and processors are free to continue to experiment with tea types and processing techniques. For example, some farms are producing white tea, shade-grown tea, unprocessed (“fresh leaf”) tea and other rarities.

Now is the ideal time to taste Hawaii-grown tea and provide feedback to suppliers and growers in order to shape the future of Hawaii-grown tea.

Samovarian Poetry: A journey of discovery begins.

Food Pairings: The delicate flavor of this tea is best paired with lighter fare, like fresh fruit, lemon chicken, lightly smoked whitefish or dried apricots dipped in white chocolate.

About Samovar View company

Samovar's is dedicated to preserving the simplicity and integrity of the tea traditions and inspiring people to practice peace through drinking tea.

22 Tasting Notes

911 tasting notes

First off, it is easy to tell that this is related to my much-loved Hawaiian-Grown Black/Makai Black. The flavor profiles are pretty similar, but the flavors seem softer, slightly muted in this tea. There’s also a hint of greenness, almost rawness that reminds me of a Neela (but not quite since I dislike Neelas for that rawness but find this pleasant). Also, this one still reminds me of shampoo ginger.

So this is a tasty tea but having such a similar taste profile to Makai Black (plus shampoo ginger and a little crispness) just makes me want Makai Black instead of this. Which would make me sad except I got an email from Eva that my tea was sent off Monday, so I will have Makai Black with me soon! Yay!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Mine shipped as well. Yay!


Yay! I can’t wait to get mine! What did you get?


I got some of each kind, but I got the most of the black since I didn’t have much to go on concerning the oolong and the white.


Very cool! I look forward to reading your log of the white since I haven’t had experience with that one.

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6768 tasting notes

After this cup – I am out of this lovely gem…bummer…
This tastes incredibly smooth today. YUM.

There is a slight juiciness to it and even slighter pine type taste.
What a terrific cuppa!
Better than I remember…this calls for a point increase!


I can’t wait for this one to become available again. It’s high on my list to buy.


Just an FYI, this is also the Mauka Oolong from Tea Hawaii, listed on this site.

If you want it, you can bypass Samovar (sorry Jesse, I still love your tea, honest! D:) And just get it from Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii directly. I bought some from her when I bought some of the Makai Black Sinensis; last I knew, she still had some.


Oooh, thank you sophistre! You have to order by phone with Tea Hawaii, right?


Nope! Actually I ordered via email. Her email address is [email protected]. The lady’s name is Eva Lee; I took this from the email I got from her after my inquiry:

‘The 12 gram bags are $10. each with s/h $5.00, up to 6 bags can be
shipped for the $5.00 s/h costs.
Other than the Makai (sinensis) Black I have at the moment the
Forest White
Mauka Oolong
Ola’a Green

All hand made and grown on Hawaii island.
Sold in 12 gram bags for $10. ea.(can serve 4 steepings).’

They can take debit/credit cards, but Visa or Master Card only.


Cool! Thank you so much for the info! :)

Geoffrey Norman

Okay, I knew there were teas being grown in Hawaii, but I never knew how to acquire it. This stuff sounds awesomely delicious.

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176 tasting notes

This is another fabulous Takgoti tea. I wanted to wait until I had a decent chunk of time on my hands to really give this tea the tasting note it deserves. This is a special tea! Not many teas are grown in America, so I feel honored to be able to taste this. I’m using my new teensy weensy Glass Oolong Teapot from Samovar for this tasting, as well as my new Lotus White Teacup from Rishi. The teapot is so cute! This is how small it is in comparison with my hand (and you can also check out the unique shape of the dry leaf): http://www.flickr.com/photos/47736372@N04/4598524179/ Upon steeping, the leaves unfurl to epic proportions: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47736372@N04/4599146076/ I rinsed the leaves first and then made my first infusion. Here is the finished first infusion in my new Rishi teacup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47736372@N04/4599148028/

First infusion: This tea has the kind of buttery, smooth mouth feel that I associate with a white tea, such as Samovar’s Downy Sprout. The texture is like a white tea, but the taste is a strange cross between an oolong and a sweet green. It is just slightly grassy, but I also taste a tree-like note (and reading what Samovar has to say about this, I think I’m tasting the pine or evergreen) like how a Christmas tree smells. It is less buttery and more sweet as it cools down.

Second infusion: The mouth feel has become a lot lighter; it’s not nearly as buttery anymore. This infusion tastes more like an oolong instead of a green/oolong/white hybrid. After each sip, the aftertaste makes me think that I just ate a few grains of sugar.

Third infusion: The color is beginning to lighten up a hair. The taste is starting to get more sweet and flowery, and the Christmas tree taste isn’t as prominent anymore. The buttery feel is no longer existent.

Fourth infusion: Color is even lighter now. The Christmas tree taste is just barely there, but the floral taste is now the most noticeable note. It continues to get sweeter, but everything is starting to taste a little watery.

Again, I want to thank Takgoti for this experience!

Boiling 2 min, 15 sec

That teapot is adorable!! Aww, I may have to get one now. I would probably hardly use it as I like to make larger amounts of tea at a time, but I think I may need it just because it is SO cute!


Erin, I have the lotus white Rishi cups to and LOVE them!


In my mind the teapot is normal size and you have giant hands. ;)

Seriously, that is redonkulously cute — almost on the verge of painful.


SoccerMom – Yes, they hold the perfect amount of tea for multiple infusions.


so cute and tiny!

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4843 tasting notes

This is a really REALLY good Oolong. The flavor is truly unique. I can indeed taste the tropical notes here. It is sweet and fruity (but not overly fruity), with a nice buttery smoothness to it. I’m on my third/fourth infusion now (the third and fourth infusion combined into one cup), and the mouthfeel is lighter than it was at first. It was very silky at the start. The woodsy tones are delightful the way they mingle with the floral and fruit notes.

A lovely Oolong experience.

Tina S.

I got to try a Hawaii Oolong a few weeks ago and I agree, they are absolutely breathtakingly lovely. If you can, look into their greens as well. We had Ola’a from the Tea Haus and it was possibly my favourite tea ever.


This sounds very intriguing! It looks like an order from Samovar is in my future.


I have heard great things about Hawaii grown black tea as well. I guess I am going to have to place an order!


Did not know tea was grown in Hawaii. Learn something every day!


@Tina S. I’ve tried the Ola’s Garden tea (from KTeas) and I loved that as well, it was special to me not only because it was delicious but because my gramma’s name was Ola. She was the only real mother I had, so anytime I find things that remind me of her, I embrace them fondly.


LiberTeas: that is a lovely story, thanks for sharing that with us!
My grandmother’s name was Anna. I pause every time I hear or see that name, and smile because it brings back so many memories :)

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828 tasting notes

I have been waiting for this tea for some time but I didn’t even realize it.

But first: I had an experience that wasn’t as great as I’d hoped with a Samovar order. I emailed about it and they were totally awesome! I love the company even more now and plan to order a lot more tea from them. Well done, Samovar.

Back to the tea: it’s great! I’ve done a few infusions and it went from being a fairly standard oolong to being nearly sweet. I need to do a more focused study of it, with much more attention to temperature, time, and number of steeps, but even without that I can say with confidence that this is my favorite oolong.

That, and the leaves are crazy! They’re not curled up the way many oolongs are and they’re HUGE!


Thank you for letting us know they have good customer service. That is importnant to me when I order anything. I have just fallen for Wild Forest Oolong from Southern Season but they are sold out and it is hideously expensive!


Yeah, Samovar really has to step up their shipping. I didn’t really bother to hassle them with it though. In a previous order all my samplers burst. They didn’t put it in a plastic bag so the contents was everywhere. I lost 50% of it, but I left it alone. One of the tins didn’t budge open. They sealed it shut on both sides so I had two ends. In my recent order, they didn’t put any bubble or packaging paper to keep the contents in place, so everything was shifting from one side to another. Luckily I didn’t order any glass teapots or it’d be disastrous.


ashmanra: it’s nice to have a place to share experiences!
Ricky: oh wow! that’s not good at all! my experience was that everything in the black tea sampler smelled and tasted of the lapsang souchong tea, even though they were sealed well. since i don’t like the LS tea at all it made the sampler a bust for me and they were very good in working with me afterward…

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236 tasting notes

This is such an amazing tea with a panoply of fragrances and flavors as well as a wonderful sweetness. This is the last bit of the sample takgoti sent me and I’m so grateful to have it to help me get through today. It brings joy and sweetness.

The flavor is lovely with notes of resin, mango, and flowers. I need to order this tea.

165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I need to get more, too [I’m down to maybe two or three cups worth?], but they’re out at the moment. I just put a huge Samovar order through, and I still didn’t get everything I wanted, so this shall wait for next time!

Cecilia Tan

Ooh neat. I will have to keep my eye out for it. I haven’t ordered from Samovar yet, but I’ve been to their tea lounge(s) in San Fran and liked them a lot.

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260 tasting notes

Two of my good friends are shacking up together. It’s a weird feeling, but I’m happy for them [truly]. One of them, I’ve known since kindergarten. The other I’ve known for a few years now.

About a year ago, when my kindergarten BFF was coming to visit from Fargo, ND where she currently resides, a light went off in my head. She was feeling a little bummed about being single, and I had this friend who was single, and I had this gut feeling that some magic would happen if I introduced them.

My BFF is back in town this week for a couple of days. Tomorrow, she’s taking my friend to Penn State with her family to go to the football game and then they are embarking on the 20 hour drive to the land of ice and snow. [It has already snowed in Fargo.]

They’re both sports freaks [she works in sports journalism and he’s…well, he’s a guy] so last night we all went to the World Cup Qualifier game between the U.S. and Costa Rica. [The U.S. had already qualified, but that didn’t keep 20-odd thousand people from attending]. Me, I’m not that much of a sports fan, but soccer [football, futbal, whatever] is one of the ones I can stand. And soccer players are hot. Not to mention soccer fans, as a general rule, are cuter than fans of other sports in my limited experience. Plus, I don’t get to see her often and he’s leaving shortly, so…you know.

It was cold and raining, and we were playing pretty badly during the first half of the game, so spirits were down. I had on three layers, and then BOTH of my friends gave me their jackets because I was dancing around trying to keep warm. All I could think about was how much I wanted a hot cup of tea. And how the guy a couple rows ahead of us looked freakishly like Jon Gosselin. [I wish I’d snapped a picture. I couldn’t stop staring, the resemblance was so striking.]

Luckily, it stopped raining, and the second half of the game picked up. We tied it up at the VERY end and the stadium erupted. It was all slightly exhilarating, but I still wanted tea.

We ended up picking up some Korean BBQ on the way back, sitting in front of the fireplace in my friend’s parents’ kitchen, and drinking hot chocolate. All in all, it was a good night and a nice way to remember one of the last nights my buddy’s gonna be in Virginia.

The first thing I did when I went home was to make a cup of tea, though. I was tired, exhausted even [too exhausted to log this last night], and in the mood for something specific while I mentally unpacked the day.

I’ve had this tea for a while, but I like to save it when I want something subtle and I know I’m not really going to be doing anything else. It’s different from most other oolongs I’ve had because the leaves are loosely twisted instead of tightly furled. Opening the tin, I smell raisins mixed with dried autumn leaves.

The flavors of the tea are a bit different from oolong’s I’ve had as well. They are definitely complex, but delicate. You want to make sure of two things when drinking this tea: one, that you’ll have time to appreciate it, and two that it’s cool enough to let it sit in your mouth a bit because if you gulp it down you’ll miss all the nuances.

It’s not a heavy tea, by any means, but it’s got a thickness to it. The flavors are what I consider to be darker ones. There are kind of a sweet, grassy, vegetal tones, and a taste that’s almost woodsy. At times I taste honey, among other things that I can’t place.

It’s a tea for thinking, and one that I enjoy at the end of the day – be they good, bad, happy, sad, or all of the above.


Nice, I was at the World Cup Qualifier game between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago. Super fun atmosphere…and WE WON!!! My husband was a total dork decked out in face paint and full scale red, white and blue.

Lets face it…you’re just a big hooch for anything Samovar, right? This one does sound quite nice though. I’ll have to put it on my “to buy” list.

Oh, and Mmmm to Korean BBQ. :)


@LENA Haha, nice! I didn’t break out the face paint, but my friend lent me some mardi gras beads and a scarf. So I was semi-spirited.

And yes…I have a Samovar problem. It’s true. What can I say? It’s my cocaine. That, and KBBQ.

@Cofftea I suppose that no internet community would be replete with someone like you. I’m all for constructive criticism, but there’s need to be nasty. I know that I can’t stop you from doing it, but please, by all means, feel free to cease reading what I have to say.


Goodness. Personally, I have much love for your story reviews. You amuse me And that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Amusing me?

Yes, yes it is.

BTW, it is your fault that I’m now going through Samovar’s site to see if they get my next order.

Cynthia Carter

I enjoy your writing very much. And the tea sounds good, too.


Thanks guys, that’s much appreciated. E-hugs to you both.

@aug3zimm Funny, the lives of my friends and family revolve around amusing ME. I like how we work. And hee, I do love Samovar. [But I promise I won’t be offended if you don’t end up ordering from them.]

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126 tasting notes

This one is blowing my mind. It is probably one of the best tasting oolongs I have every had. Seriously.

It has the subtle flavor that I love about oolongs. But instead of being crisp, it’s got a creaminess to it, which totally contradicts the pale clear liquid. There is a sight fruity note in it, but very mild. It’s not a “fruity” tea at all. Other sips, I can taste a “green” note, which must be the pine. Sweetness, a little bit of a rawness character to it, mild in flavor and color. Just all around goodness. I could drink this all day and just think about each cup. I think this one will have to be for special “I have nothing on my calendar” days!

And let me tell you, the leaves are HUGE. Even dried. Opening the bag and peering in, it looked like they put the whole plant in there (except for the twiggy parts). But they are a beautiful green color, like they were dried not that long ago.

Fantastic. Heaven in my cup. I’m sure I said that before, but this one is really amazing.

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10 tasting notes

The product description is surprisingly accurate on the taste-notes. For me, I was also getting a sense of what can be best described as “fresh”, with slight notes of vegetal, and an interesting titillation on the tip of my tongue, a sensation similar to something spicy (but not being actually spicy). Due to its rather mellow nature, I had to steep longer than some oolongs. In this case, 3mins at just over Green/White Tea-temps. And for each consecutive steep, added another 30 seconds. By the third steep, it takes on a more apricot flavour. I’ve managed to take it to 5 steeps without issue, but found the first steep to be the most interesting. As good as this tea is, the cost makes it difficult to justify, at least for an “every day” tea. Probably better suited for special occasions, or something to try now and then to break up your regular tea regimen.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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28 tasting notes

Excellent tea. High quality, gorgeous leaves. Delicate, and sweet. Tastes fruity and slightly grassy. Mouth feel of a white but clear fruit flavors. Delicious over and over again. Steep as many times as possible.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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